LAS VEGAS - Pop superstar Taylor Swift offered a new personal transformation Sunday as she debuted a video of herself as a feminist action hero in collaboration with rapper Kendrick Lamar.
taylor swift went from singing kendrick's songs to singing with him her own song and i think that's amazing— soni's bae (@bloodofswift) May 18, 2015
Appearing at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, where she was the night's victor, Swift premiered "Bad Blood" as the fourth single from her album "1989," by far the top-selling solo album last year.
The single version features Lamar, one of the most acclaimed rappers of the moment, in a hip-hop duet - a once unthinkable step for the 25-year-old Swift, who started off in country music before shifting to pop.
The song -- whose chorus runs, "Baby, now we've got bad blood / You know it used to be mad love" -- is about Swift's fallout with another pop star, widely speculated to be Katy Perry.
But the video, directed by veteran music director Joseph Kahn, turns "Bad Blood" into a mini-action film, with Swift leaping into an office and dueling with baddies.
Hoping for a theme of women's empowerment, Swift enlists as her co-heroines a number of female stars ranging from model Cindy Crawford to actresses Zendaya and Selena Gomez to Lena Dunham, the creator of the dark television comedy series "Girls."
"Let the lethal forces of femininity rock you to sleep," Dunham wrote on Twitter ahead of the video's debut.
Swift in the video turns into a boxer and, with her hair momentarily dyed deep red, struts with a row of weapon-toting women.
The Billboard Music Awards, run by the music trade magazine, recognize chart performance in contrast to the more prestigious Grammys, which are based on voting within the industry.
Taylor Swift won more Billboard Music Awards last night than Katy Perry has won in her entire career. pic.twitter.com/iKdCXGFJjS— Shady Music Facts (@musicnews_shade) May 18, 2015
- Sam Smith's silent messages -
To little surprise, Swift was the big winner of the night. She carried off eight awards including top artist.
As she accepted the first of her awards, Swift embraced Scottish DJ Calvin Harris, who was sitting beside her.
The images are certain to reinforce reports in the gossip press that Swift is dating Harris, who later won top dance/electronic artist.
Sam Smith, the British soul singer who triumphed at the Grammys, missed the Billboard awards as he underwent surgery Thursday to repair a vocal cord problem.
Smith, who has canceled weeks of shows, accepted a Billboard award for top male artist through a video message. He silently held handwritten signs that included: "Can't wait to get this surgery out of the way so I can sing my ass of for you again."
The British boy band One Direction won for best duo or group, less than two months after Zayn Malik parted ways.
"There's one more person to share this with, and that's our brother Zayn," Liam Payne said as he took the stage with his three fellow remaining bandmates.
The gracious display came after open acrimony between Malik and Louis Tomlinson, another remaining member of the band that long enjoyed a squeaky clean image.
Tomlinson had criticized Malik's producer Naughty Boy after the former bandmate released solo work soon after the split. Malik then quipped over Twitter to Tomlinson: "Remember when you had a life and stopped making bitchy comments about mine?"
Taylor Swift Shares Behind-the-Scenes Photo From "Bad Blood" Set: Girls Chow Down on Burgers http://t.co/IgKhICZ6Za— modtoast (@modtoast) May 18, 2015